John Guthrie Smith.

The parish of Strathblane and its inhabitants from early times : a chapter in Lennox history online

. (page 26 of 45)
Online LibraryJohn Guthrie SmithThe parish of Strathblane and its inhabitants from early times : a chapter in Lennox history → online text (page 26 of 45)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

repentance," and he also purchased "ane hirne gowne," z>., a sackcloth robe,
for the use of penitents who were placed on the pillar to be censured, prin-
cipally for breaches of the Third, Fourth, Seventh, and Ninth Commandments.
The Session Records, which were well kept at this time, and throw a good
deal of light on the history of the parish, contain— "ane accompt of receipts be
the Sessione of Strablane." These consisted of the collections in church and of

^ See Appendix.


fines for various offences, principally for transgressions of the fore-named com-
mandments, and these funds were used both for repairs and general church
purposes, and also for charity. Entries such as the following are frequent : —
"Givin out of the box to ane poore supplicant, . . 01. 04. o.
" Givin out of the box for ane Iron chynnie to the

kirk bell, for ringing of it, 02. 04. o.

" Givin be directioun of the Prisbitrie to ane
studdent of theologie in the College of

Glasgow, 06. 16. o."

About 1655 considerable repairs were made on the church. Thus: —
" Givin to two men who laid the kirk floore w'

flags, 01. 10. o.

" Givin to W'"- Stoboe for dressing of the kirk and
the bell house, and furnisching of lyme

and stone, 18. o. o.

" Givin for cairiing the kirk bell to Rossedoe to get

ane tongue put in it, 01. o. o."

In 1660 William Lennox of Wester Ballewan or Ballewan Lennox and
Archibald Edmonstone of Middle Ballewan had a dispute about their right to
a certain seat in the church, and they had to go to the Presbytery before it
could be settled, and the Records relate how William Lennox, not being satisfied
with the finding of the Church Courts, in a contumacious manner " appealed to
the Cevil Magistrat." Very soon after this time came the Restoration, and King
Charles II. shordy afterwards estabUshed Episcopacy as the form of government
of the Church of Scotland.^ Mr. Cochran and the great bulk of his congregation
quietly submitted, and so far as appears there was little or no persecution in
Strathblane for conscience' sake, and in truth this change made but small difference,

^At an "occasional" Presbytery at Dumbarton, 25th September, 1660, a letter addressed
to all the Presbyteries of the Churcli by King Charles was read, in which His Majesty, after
thanking the Church for her loyalty and for the address sent him, assures her that by the grace
of Cod " Wee doe resolve to discountenance prophanitie and all contemners and opposers of
the ordinances of the Gospel!, wee doe also resolve to protect and preserve the government of
the Church of Scotland as it is settled by law without violatione," and in return for this the
King hoped they would confine themselves to ecclesiastical matters, " and keep within the
compass of their statioune." His Majesty ends his letter in a very pious way, asking for their
prayers "for us and our government." The Presbytery were much pleased with this letter and
resolved that " The Presbyterie having read and perused the said letter doe, with great thanks-
giving to God for His Majesties gracious declarationes and resolutiones thairin, receave the
sd. letter and ordaine it to be publictly read by every minister in face of the several congrega-
tions upon the next Lords Day for acquainting the people thair with, together with His
Majesties Act against prophanitie and debaucherie."

It is not minuted in the Presbytery Records what action the reverend court took when on
the 27th May of the succeeding year, 1661, the Estates of Parliament, instigated thereto by this
pious and chaste King, passed " An Act for the Restitution and Re-establishment of the Ancient
Government of the Church by Archbishops and Bishops."


in form at least. There was a Session and elders, or persons acting as such,
and a Presbytery of Dumbarton and Synod of Glasgow. The service was the same
as before,^ there being no prayer-book, and the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper
was dispensed to the communicants, who seem to have received it sitting, not
kneeling. There was a Fast-Day on the Thursday preceding it, a Preparation-
Day on Saturday, and a Thanksgiving on Monday. The following entries in
the Session Records, as bearing on this, are interesting: —

"Oct 1 8 1669 the qlk day convened minister and eldejs for
dividing of the poores money."
This money was collected by ladles at every service, and the elders took the
duty by turns — thus : —

" 1672. Archibald Edmonstone, younger, and Walter
Buchanan to collect from Lambasse to Hallowday next.

"1672. The 9th Febry collected be W"" Grahame and his
nibour 5 s. lod."

"The 20 of Jully 1672 being the fasting Thursday for the
Communione collected be Rob' Foyer 2s. 8d. and be Jo"
Rankine 5s."

Then on the Preparation Saturday —

"The 22nd of Jully collected be Ro' Foyer 4s. 8d. be Jo"
Rankine 6s.

" The 23 day of Jully being ye Communione Sabbath collected
be Robert Forester 17"^^ 2s. 6d. and be Jo" Rankine 36s."

" The 24 of Jully being the Mononday efter the Com-
munione collected be Walter M'^Calpine 32s. qlk by directione
of the Sessione given to the poore."

"The 22 of Apprill 1672 th' my lord Bishop pritched
here collected be Jo" MXoul 3od. and be Walter M'Callay
15s. 2d."

^ " During the Second Episcopacy — from 1661 to 1690 — there was no attempt to revive
Laud's Liturgy, the introduction of which had been the occasion, if not the main cause, of
the outbreak m 1637. The new bishops, as was said, had no wish to ride the ford where their
predecessors were drowned, but contented themselves with falling back on the Book of Common
Order, and this was now used merely as a directory. The reading of prayers by the cleigy
had fallen into disrepute : and those Bishops who touched the thorny subject of worship went
no farther than to recommend reverence in God's House, the reading of large portions of
Scripture, the use of the Lord's Prayer, Doxology, and Creed : and daily Common Prayer in
the Churches, with reading of Scripture when convenient." "During the troubles of the Com-
monwealth the Lord's Supper is said to have been neglected for years in many parishes of the
three kingdoms. After the Restoration there was little or no improvement in Scotland. Anderson
of Dumbarton states that in his Presbytery it was celebrated three times oftener wilhin the
twelve years previous to 1714 than it had laeen during the twenty-eight years of the Second
Episcopacy." — [IVorship and Offices of the Churck of Scotland, George W. Sprott, D.D., pp.
4-101.) I'he Session Records of Strathblane show that in our parish the Communion was not


This was the Bishop, or rather Archbishop, of the diocese, Leighton, one of the
sainthest men Scotland ever knew. Every one knows his Commentary on St.
Peter — a famous book — but it is not so well known how he laboured to
reconcile the Presbyterians and Episcopalians in Scotland. Like many
moderate men, he disliked the Covenant, and had a leaning towards Episco-
pacy, hoping that in a modified form it might be established in Scotland
with the consent of all parties. But this was not to be, and rather than join,
or seem to join, in the severe measures which in some parts of the country
were resorted to against the Covenanters, he resigned his See about two years
after this time.

The new Archbishop was not so mild, and at the meeting of the Presbytery
of Dumbarton in March, 1674, there were read two letters from him, one
asking for a list of vacancies, and another inquiring if any within the bounds
withdrew from public worship or kept conventicles. The Presbytery sent the
list of vacancies, and were to report afterwards about the other matter.

It does not appear that Mr. Cochran made any report on the conventicles,
if there were any in the parish, and some years afterwards, when lists of dis-
orderly persons were asked for by the Archbishop from the ministers of each
parish, there were no such in Strathblane — at all events Mr. Cochran gave in
no list. Mr. Cochran was a mild, good man, who was contented to be either an
EpiscopaUan or a Presbyterian, provided it was the Church of the country
and in accordance with the sentiments of the majority of the people, and he
had no desire to persecute anyone; indeed, it is recorded that he was very
kind to those who got into trouble for their religious opinions, and sheltered
them from the consequences. Inhere happened in the parish about 1677 an
occurrence which must have annoyed Mr. Cochran very much, and which
certainly says very little for John Craig, the laird of Leddriegreen. The follow-
ing is Nisbet's account of this affair,^ furnished by the son of the sufferer :

"In the year 1677 the late Archibald Edmonstone of Duntreath, being then
at Duntreath on his private affairs, the minister called Mr. Forrester, formerly
in the parish of Killearn, came to Duntreath without Duntreath's knowledge,
and had a private lecture in the gallery there, probably by the invitation of
some private Christians, which when Duntreath heard of he thought it no great
crime to be a hearer ; on this egregious fault, only esteemed so by the prevailing
party of the time, he was informed against by one Craig of Ledrogrean to my
Lord Ross, who then commanded a troop of Dragoons; on this the said troop
was sent to apprehend Duntreath not suspecting any such treatment and
apprehending him took him straight to Glasgow where he lay a night in the

^ Nisbet's Heraldry, vol. ii. p. 300.


Court of Guard, afterwards three nights in the Tolbooth and give in his bond
jQ\Qo ster' to General Dalziel to appear at Edinburgh a month after that which
accordingly he did and continued six months in the Tolbooth, in which Time
he was called three Times before the Council, but was not allowed any advo-
cate or Lawyer to appear or plead for him." He was finally released, but "fined
in ^50° ster' the one half to the Informer and the other half to the
Crown." ^ The only other traces of persecution in the parish are the cases of
John Craig of Laggan, probably for attending this very Conventicle, who
escaped from arrest through the kindly help of a friend who was brewing at
Ballewan and who turned an empty barrel over him and thus hid him from
his pursuers, and of John Foyer, schoolmaster at Duntreath, who at the
Presbytery, 4th December, 1682, was reported as "one who had obstinately
refused to take the test." In his case the Presbytery reported him to the civil
judges within whose jurisdiction he dwelt, but his punishment, if any, is not
recorded. James Edmonstone of Broich was quite of an opposite way of think-
ing from his relatives at Duntreath, and according to Wodrow was one of those
to whom the King and Council gave gifts of the moveables of those who had
fought at Bothwell Bridge. Straitoun, in the county of Ayr, was allotted to
him in 1679, and Wodrow says: "From that one parish Broich at this time
exacted upwards of two hundred pounds sterling besides much more loss which
cannot now be comj^uted." Mr. Cochran, who was not a robust man, in fact,
as the Presbytery records say, suffering from " incapibilitie of body," whatever
that may be, was very zealous for the improvement of the church and parish,
and his sympathies extended even beyond it, for it is recorded in the
Session Records that in "1673 the 21 of Octr thr wes delyvered to M'' Jon
Cochrane us. that wes gathered throw the Paroch for the use of the prisoners
of the Turkes," and in May, 1675 "thr was collected for contributioun for the
building of the bridge of Milnguy 12s. lod."

There is nothing further of interest in Mr. Cochran's known history during
Episcopal times, and matters seem to have gone quietly in the parish till
Presbyterianism was again installed in the Church of Scotland after the accession
of William and Mary.

^ John Douglas of Mains in New Kilpatrick, a Strathblane man in virtue of his possession
of Arlehaven, along with his wife Elizabeth Hamilton was cited for nonconformity in 1685.
We do not know how the laird fared ; but the Episcopal Incumbent of New Kilpatrick did his
very best for the lady, as the following certificate from him jiroves : — "Certificate for Lady
Mains. — To all whom it may concerne, Be it known that Elizabeth Hammiltoune, Lady of
Maynes, Is a very regular personne and a constant keeper of the Church, and of so Loyall
principles, that never any of her children bred by her could be aspersed with fanaticisme or
disloyaltie. But yesterday six weeks or thereabouts, returning home from the Church, did strain
her foot so as that she remained unible to travel or be transported, which to be of verity is
testifyed by these presents, written and sub' with my hand, at Easter Kilpatrick, February 9,
1685 years, W. Duncane." — (Dennistoun MSS.)



After the Revolution of 1688, though Presbyterianism was re-estabhshed, Epis-
copacy in the greater number of parishes in the Lennox died hard, and this
was the case in the North to even a greater extent. Thus on the 26th April,
1692, an order was received by the Presbytery of Dumbarton from the General
Assembly, to send one of their number to the North for the purpose of
advancing the cause of Presbyterianism. The brethren, however, felt their
position so insecure that they came to the following resolution : —

"The Presb"^^ taking to their serious consideration the dangerous condition
of the various congregations within their bounds being such that the prelaticall
incumbents with their adherents are endeavouring by all means to reposses them-
selves of the churches doo find it impossible to preserve any congregation now
plantit from being lost because of the vigilant adversary when the Min"" th"" of
should be sent to the North and therefor have resolved for this season not to pairt
w' any of thair number." In Strathblane nothing particular happened till the
meeting of the Presbytery of Dumbarton, 15th July, 1690, when the following
occurs in the Records : —

" The Presbyterie having read a letter from Mr. J°" Cochran incumbent at
Strathblane q''in he shows the brethren his willingness to subscribe his own
demission from his charge there ; q'^for the Presb''^ has apoynted him to do so
and to send it in with the first occassion." The next Presbytery was held at
Kilpatrick, 24th July, 1690, and it is recorded that —

" This day Mr. John Cochran, incumbent at Strathblane, did send in to the
meeting at Kilpatrick a letter of his voluntary deniission of his charge in the
for^"^ congregation q"'' letter is to be keept in the Clerk's hands ad futuram rei
memoriam and appoynted to be regrat in the Presbytrie book the tenor q'of is
as followeth : —

" Strablain the 21 of July 1690.

" Rev'' Mod' & remanent brithren of the Presbytrie of Dumbarton, I M'
John Cochran minister at Strablain having preached, baptised and married these
fortie years now through age, weakness and the sinfulness of the tymes does
delyoer up myself & my ministrie to Jesus Christ who called me here, having
had an unanimous call from the whole gentlemen & parish of Strablain does
give over my charge to the Presbyterie as to the exercise of my ministrie in
all the particulars of it- and shall joyn as a paiishioner with that faithful Pres-
bytrie to seek for a godly, religious and hooly man to go about all his
ministerial duties for the benefit & good of this people whos spiritual growth
in grace and holiness by a gospel minister will be my sole comfort and I
am confidant the Presbytrie will be carefull of my well being as to my
stipend for the year 1689 and Lykways th' they would be pleased to recom-
mend my willingness and conscientious carriage to the Gra' Assembly th* it is to

2 D


sitt at Ed' q'^'' assembly the holy one of Israel, sit down with and go through
w' them for the advancement of the Gospel th' Christ our Lord maybe
glorously exalted and the gospel covenant maybe faithfully preached, and lastly
I humbly entreat the Presbytrie th' qn a minister is placed, they would cause
the paroch provyd an house to me near the Church becaus of my sad pain
and inability for I desire to sit and joyn q" God send the man here and to joyn
my endeavours and love w' the advancement of Christs gospel and the good

of my people whom I dearly love and hopes
to die and live w' them and th' I may keep
the Manse while God send the man and then
at your command obey and am hopeful! th'
the Presbytrie will be instrumental th' I may
(jQ I have supply and some maintenance for the
tyme to come as th' wisdoms shall think fitt
and truly it is my heart's desire th' gracious
Mr. Elphinston be our minister for the Lord
bears it in upon me both in prayer and in my
thoughts th' he will be the man q' must be
our minister and the Almighty God of my sal-
vation bring it to pass in testimony of the
premeses I subscribe the same w' my hand
Sic Subscribitur

"M' John Cochran."
Nothing more is recorded of Mr. Cochran.
It is to be hoped that some provision was
made for him, and that he ended his days in

An interesting old tombstone in the
Churchyard, of which a vi^oodcut is annexed,
tells all we know of Mr. Cochran's family
history. The Arms — a curious example of
Strathblane Heraldry — Cochran impaled with
M'Gregor, and the initials M (Magister) I C
and A M'G show that his wife was a M'Gregor, and the date 1688 is probably
that of her death.^


^ The initials JF MD 1767 nnd the name Ballagan have been cut upon the stone at a
much later date.



Just a month after this letter was written, on the 26th August, 1690, com-
missioners from Strathblane appeared before the Presbytery and gave a call to
Mr. James Elphinston, who was the first minister licensed by the Presbytery of
Dumbarton after the restoration of Presbyterianism. This had taken place a year
before. In January, 1691, Mr. Elphinston received a call from Dumbarton, and
Balfron also wanted him, but after the usual preliminaries in such cases Mr.
Elphinston chose Strathblane, and on the 29th April, 1691, he was ordained
and admitted to the parish. It had been arranged with the heritors, too, that
the stipend was to be augmented, so Mr. Elphinston seems to have made
a fair start. ^ He was, however, hardly settled before another call from Dum-
barton came, but after some proceedings in Presbytery and Synod Mr, Elphin-
ston remained at Strathblane.

One of his first acts was to get a new set of elders and deacons.^ Mr.
Elphinston received a call to Cardross in 1694, but he remained at Strath-
blane. In 1698 Airth wished his services, but the General Assembly declined
to translate him. In 1700, however, he left the parish, and was settled in
Dalkeith, much to the regret of the people of Strathblane. On his taking
leave of the Presbytery of Dumbarton, it was minuted, " The Presbyterie
regrate the loss of such a worthy Brother and recommends him to the
Grace of God." In Mr. Elphinston's case, as in that of Mr. Cochran,

^ Among the disbursements of the Session Money "from the 20 day of Appryl 1691 to the
last day of Appryl 1692 " the following are given as specimens : —

To John Key under a fitt of distraction to goe to the Doctor, - - - 03 06 o

To Mr. \Vm. Camron Latt Curat at Greinock by the Synods order, - - 00 14 06

To a poor woman who had her husband to be cut of a ston, - - - 00 18 06

To a poor man in Kilmaronock, - - - - - - - - - 00 12 o

To James Robartoun a poor man that had twa children burnt in his house, 00 12 O
To ane John Colquhoane a poor man in Lusse tormented sorely be gravell

and recommended to us be the presbetrie, 01 00 o

2 The Session Records, too, were kept more carefully than in Mr. Cochran's time, the sins
and punishments of the parishioners being very minutely described — the Third, Fourth, and
Seventh Commandments being those most frequently broken. The new Session, as now ar-
ranged, consisted of

Elders. Deacons.

Walter M'Indoe Robert Dalglish in Blairquhoche]

Archibald Foyer Walter M'Ala in Auchengilian

William Brown George Ronald in Garvel

Archibald Gait aith in Cult James Shearer in Mugdock

John M'Indoe in Rosyaird
John Buchanan in Ballewne
James Browne in Duntreath
John Welch in Mugdock
James Ranken in Dumbroch


and later on that

of Mr. Livingston, we are again indebted to a friendly
tombstone for a clue to his parentage.
The legend round the annexed woodcut
tells us that "Here lies M'Farlan,

spouse to Master David Elphinstone,
Minister of Dumbritan, who died the
12 of Marich, 169 ." This Mr. David
Elphinston, minister of Dumbarton, began
his clerical career as Chaplain to Lady
Elphinston of Blythswood. His first wife
was "Janet Dennestone," who died in
1653, leaving "an only bairn Janet ";^
the lady of the name of M'Farlan was
therefore his second wife, and no doubt
she came to Strathblane with her son,
the young bachelor minister, to house-
keep for him when he settled there.
The date of her death is partly obliter-
ated, but there is enough left to show
that she died before her son was trans-
lated to Dalkeith in 1700. A few months
before Mr. Elphinston left Strathblane he
married "Mrs. Kathrine Moncrieff," in
the parish of Lasswade.^


After Mr. Elphinston left the parish there was some talk of giving a call
to Mr. James Gilchrist, the minister of New Cumnock, who was put forward by
the Marquis of Montrose's friends, but this came to nothing, as the other

1 Fast, Ecc. Scot. iii. 339.

2 The arms on the tombstone are evidently intended for a M'Farlane coat, though at first
sight, and before reading the inscription round the stone, one would naturally conclude they
were the armorial bearings of Mr. James Gray, whose name and dates of admission and death
are eni^raved on the square tablet above them. The explanation of this confusion of M'Farlane
arms and Gray name is probably this. After Mr. Elphinston buried his mother he left the
square tablet blank to be filled at his own death his name and relative dates. No doubt,
however, he was buried at Dalkeith, where he died in 1709, and the tablet remained unused.
When Mr. Gray, a succeeding minister of Strathblane, died in 1766, and was buried beneath
this stone, the blank tablet was doubtless found a convenient and fitting place to incise his
name and the dates of his admission and death. There is a second Strathblane minister
buried under this interesting old stone— the Rev. Hamilton I'uchanan, who died in 1841,



heritors and the parishioners generally declined to join in it. The parish there-
fore remained vacant till the 6th May, 1702, on which day Mr. James
Livingstone was ordained and set apart for the work of the ministry at

Mr. Livingstone was quite a young man. He had been educated at the
University of Glasgow, and, after leaving it, was in 1701 Chaplain of Dumbarton
Castle. In the Records of the Presbytery of Dumbarton, 7th January, 1701, the
following occurs : —

" The Prby"'^ hearing a savoury account of the piety and other good quali-
fic°nes of Mr. James Livingstone, Chaplain of the Castle of Dumbartane, and of
M" James Bane, student in the parish of Cardrosse, they do conclude to enter
them both upon try els."

Mr. Livingstone was duly approved in them all and licensed to preach the
gospel, and sent to supply the vacant pulpit of Strathblane for two Sundays.
The parishioners no sooner heard him than they gave him a call, when the
following proceedings, which are rather curious, took place before the Presbytery
6th January, 1702 : —

" Anent the Call of Strathblane . . . Mr. Livingstone being called in declared
as to the call of Strathblane that he was in a strait about it, for though he
believed it might be unanimous enough as to the inhabitants of the paroch yet
he was informed that the Marquise of Montrose and Duntraiths doers (or
factors) resented it that they had not been owned nor their consent sought to
the s'^ call which also Dougalstone signefied to the Presbytery by a letter. The
Presbytery taking this to their consideration found that Mr. John Andersone
Dumbarton having by appointment of the Presbytery waited upon the Marquise
of Montrose at Edinburgh shortly after the vacancy of Strathblane .... to

Online LibraryJohn Guthrie SmithThe parish of Strathblane and its inhabitants from early times : a chapter in Lennox history → online text (page 26 of 45)